Tornadoes slow it down to keep winning on the court

Anoka improved to 7-5 after a 47-39 win over district and Northwest Suburban Conference opponent Champlin Park Jan. 10.

The Tornadoes were held to just 16 points in the first half before they turned it around with a refocused half-court offense and defense for a 31-19 second-half edge with Anoka junior Kyrah Fredenburg leading the way with 18 points.

Anoka's Claire Lundberg leaps over a Rogers player to make a shot earlier this season. Photo by Bill Jones
Anoka’s Claire Lundberg leaps over a Rogers player to make a shot earlier this season. Photo by Bill Jones

Tornadoes coach James Fassett said the contest turned into an “old-fashioned game.”
“It was a defensive battle,” he said. “There wasn’t much transition and both [teams] tried to pound [the ball] inside.”

His team can play multiple styles of offense but really thrives in a half-court setting which allows them to work the ball inside to post Jordan Meyer, Fredenburg, Amber Bray or Ashley Bray, Fassett said.

“All four of them are getting minutes inside right now,” he said.

The other component has been a consistent effort on the defensive end, Fassett said.

“We didn’t defend well over the holidays,” he said. “We’ve tightened it up, made some changes and a different philosophy now to help the team defense. Less full-court [pressure] and refocused on more half-court stuff.”

The win came on the heels of a 75-57 loss Jan. 8 to Park Center, which led the Northwest Suburban Conference game by seven points at the half.

Park Center’s Cayla McMorris led the way with 25 points and Hollie Sorensen added 18 while Anoka was paced by Meyer with 12 points. Fredenburg added 10 and Claire Lundberg was held to six points.

“Their speed really hurt us,” Fassett said.

Anoka's Kyrah Fredenburg, left, fights through a block attempt by a Rogers player. Photo by Bill Jones
Anoka’s Kyrah Fredenburg, left, fights through a block attempt by a Rogers player. Photo by Bill Jones

Teams with quick guards who want to score in transition seem to cause a lot of trouble for the Tornadoes, he said. “Our focus is to get back [on defense] and slow them down,” Fassett said.

Offensively, Fassett believes his squad can match-up well in either style of offense, up-tempo transition or running plays in a half-court set. “We’re OK in our running lanes, but we try to work off the inside and at least get the ball to the post,” he said. “Then either kick it out or go to the hoop, either high-post or down low we want to get the ball inside.”

Consistency is key
“It’s been [an] up-and-down [season],” Fassett said after his team opened 2013 with a convincing 61-44 win over rival Andover in Anoka Jan. 3. “We’ve strung together a few wins and then lose one that kind of got away from us. Consistency [in shooting and defense] is an issue right now but we’re beating teams we should. It’s definitely an improvement over the last couple years.”

Case in point was how Anoka played against Andover after a six-day break from games. The game was the fourth in a span of 15 days around the holidays in which the Tornadoes split both games at the Rogers Invite (Dec. 27-28).

Anoka opened with a 49-46 win over Rogers when Fredenburg sank the go-ahead three-pointer with six seconds left to secure the win. Fredenburg had a game-high 15 points, six rebounds, four steals and blocked one shot. Lundberg had 12 points and five steals in the team’s first back-to-back win of the season.

Anoka's Ashley Bray, right, fights for a loose ball against Rogers. Photo by Bill Jones
Anoka’s Ashley Bray, right, fights for a loose ball against Rogers. Photo by Bill Jones

Anoka ran into a very tough Forest Lake the next day and came up on the losing end of a 60-40 game. “We were beaten in all facets of the game,” Fassett said. “We just had a lack-luster game over the holidays. We concentrated on stopping their inside game and didn’t defend well.”

Rangers standout Bailey Norby made just four shots from the field but managed to score a game-high 23 points with several points coming from the free throw line.

Turning-point win
“That was huge,” Fassett said about the home win over Andover. “It’s always fun when you can beat the rival and that’s our biggest rivalry right now because the girls grew up playing against each other and both programs have strong junior classes.

“There were certain things we had to do, like slow them down offensively and hopefully they missed some shots. And we got some confidence and used our size advantage to rebound and get some points inside.”

Fassett wanted to key on Meyer against Graham in the post because of Meyer’s 6-foot, 2-inch frame but Graham still managed to grab a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. She also had four steals, two assists and two turnovers.
Andover countered with Katie Yoder’s speed in the transition game and ability to work well off the dribble.

The win over Andover included big performances like Lundberg’s game-high 16 points in which she went 3-for-3 from three-point range and added four rebounds. Fredenburg had 13 points, eight rebounds and Abby Torgerson had 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Ashley Bray held the interior defense together with three blocked shots and Meyer led the team with nine rebounds.

Lundberg, Anoka’s third-year starting guard, has developed an aggressiveness to get to the rim which has helped her average a team-high 12.7 points per game. She’s shooting .579 from the field, .382 from three-point range and .774 (24-31) from the line.

“She’s doing well,” Fassett said. “Claire will have games like against Andover where she’s hitting threes and getting more aggressive going to the rack and in the past she’s been one dimensional as a three-point shooter. So now she’s two-dimensional which has helped her game and helped us as well.”